Since I’ve been working on this blog steadily for a while now, I decided to finally look into attending my first conference. Naturally, my first step was to do my homework to figure out which should by my first; turns out there are a lot of great conferences out there! My first stop (besides Google) was to email my friend Quiana from Harlem Lovebirds, knowing that she had been to several of them in the past.
Here’s what I remember of that conversation (via Facebook):
Me: I know you’ve been to a bunch of conferences, and I’m thinking of giving one a shot. Any recs?
Her: I actually have a free ticket for one in Orlando two weeks from now.
Why so shocked? It just so happened I was already going to be in Orlando for THOSE EXACT DATES.
I explained that I would likely only be able to attend a handful of the weekend’s event. Luckily, she said that was a-okay with her. So, you better believe I took that as a ridiculous sign and snatched that ticket right up.
After a couple of weeks of very active Facebook stalking of my fellow attendees and an early morning flight, I landed in Orlando. I was basically a big ball of nerves and excitement.
I hopped on a shuttle to the host hotel only to be greeted by two other women attending BlogHer – Stephanie Flor from Around the World Beauty and Breena Blake from More Better Blues. They were SO nice, and I immediately felt better. Believe it or not, about 99% of the women I met throughout that day and the next were just as delightful. I’m looking at you Amber, Kristin, Karimah, and Yentl!
After lunch at Disney Springs with some new friends, we picked up some swag-filled tote bags and got settled in for the opening keynote presentation.
And. It. Was. Good.
There was a quick time of focusing and meditation to get everyone ready for what lay ahead. The afternoon was split into three parts.
First up was “Turn Passion into Profit” featuring Anastasia Ashley and Gabi Gregg, and hosted by Tai Beauchamp. After that, we just got to listen to a Fireside Chat between Chelsea Clinton and Cecile Richards (President of Planned Parenthood). And things were rounded out with Margaret Cho and Logan Levkoff getting personal and speaking on Body- and Sex-Positivity.
Following those amazing speakers, they opened up Evening at the Expo. It is basically an opportunity to chat with some of the wonderful event sponsors… i.e., my worst nightmare. A lot of small talk with a lot of great organizations when the introvert in me had already expended all her energy meeting people all day.
The next morning I came back bright and early for the Newbie Breakfast – a little time dedicated to first-timers like myself. I was shocked at how long the line already was when I arrived, but luckily had another contact from the Facebook group save me a seat, which just so happened to be at the same table as another blogger I had been hoping to meet – Jenise from A Toddler & A Topknot. Don’t you love when stuff like that happens?!
Jacqueline Baker was a delight as she led us through a little etiquette lesson over a yummy (albeit light) breakfast.
And just like that it was over.
Even after blogging (off-and-on) for as long as I have, I don’t know if the blogger’s life is for me. But I do know that this conference was amazing, blog or no blog. There was an overwhelming sense of community, and the speakers we had the opportunity to hear and learn from alone were worth the usually hefty conference pass.
If you’re on the fence, I highly recommend checking it out next year. Fingers crossed they come back to NYC!
Have you been to any conferences that you would recommend? I’m hooked!